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Combining two strong hives

I have a relatively small swarm colony that I collected back in May that has been very strong and quickly built out their 10 frame deep box and have been working a flow super. Unfortunately, the behavior has become increasingly sour as they have strengthened not stinging aggressive but a lot of chasing (>100m), head butting, robbing tendency, a lot of jittery movement on the frames and flying to hands even on nice weather days. I feel like they are one step from really blowing up on a bad day. It’s really a shame because the growth and brood pattern of this queen has been phenomenal but it’s just not something that I can tolerate in this location.

There’s another strong colony with a 2021 carni hybrid queen immediately adjacent, not quite as populous, but still strong and covering 10 deep frames, that has a very gentle demeanor and is a pleasure to work that I would like combined with the swarm colony.

I did a newspaper method combine after pinching the swarm queen. I used a couple extra sheets thinking that it would slow them down a little. I don’t have a screen board. I put the now queenless swarm colony on top and slid the combined stack halfway in between (so both colonies are only about half a box width from their original location) so the field force from both colonies would easily find their way back to the new entrance. I propped open the lid so the upper bees aren’t trapped in a hot box (it’s been close to 40°C and humid the last few days) while they chew the newspaper.

My question is (maybe) a simple one: the returning foragers who had allegiance to the now-missing queen, what is their reaction to coming home to a new queen? Hopefully I didn’t unnecessarily put the good queen at risk.


Just to show logic of the process. Opposite method is being used when you need to move roughly a half of foragers to a new colony. Move old hive 1/2 of box width left or right from the old place. Put another hive with new queen next to it. Half of the foragers will drift to a new hive. They don’t kill new queen. Your situation is not so different.
You also may observe foragers begging to let them in. They lift abdomen at the landing board and fan actively. Then they start to walk in.


Thanks. That’s the logic I used. Just looking for reassurance, I guess. I did see some “begging” but no fighting.

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I think it was Snelgrove who did some research showing that any forager carrying food will be allowed into a hive, even if it isn’t their own hive. :blush:


Hi Alok, the returning foragers will be accepted ok because they are bringing back stores. The returning foragers will be ok with the different queen on account of the numbers inside the hive will be far greater than the numbers of the foraging bees.

I lost a couple of queens in the past by combining a strong queenless colony with a weaker queen-rite colony. The numbers of the queenless colony dominated & killed the queen. That was my theory & a lesson learnt. I wont do that again.

I’d be concerned about the hot weather & the welfare of the bees in the top box. I would use a well ventilated lid for that purpose & I would probably avoid doing it in high temps., based on past bad outcomes, with the benefit of hindsight.

I would be propping that lid up as high as possible all around, while avoiding them escaping.


Not long after I combined there was a thunderstorm and the temp dropped to around 20°C and the highs today and tomorrow are only in the 20’s so I think they’ll be ok with the temperatures. I’m sure the newspaper is already gone, as many bees as there are in those hives…

I’ll let you all know how it went in a couple weeks when I have a good look through the colony!


You’ll start to see chewed up newspaper outside the entrance. I hope it goes well, cheers

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